On a little corner of beach in what some have called the center of the center of biodiversity -- Bantayan Island in the Philippines -- children, community members, and environmental attorneys are leading the path toward environmentally and citizen-friendly road sharing. On April 22, 2013 (Earth Day), a group of 20 children in the Philippines proved that we can, and we must, stand up and demand environmental justice.
I had the pleasure of joining a passionate and committed group of leaders on Bantayan Island, Cebu of The Philippines, on Earth Day this year for the launch of their project. This Share the Road Movement calls on the government of the Philippines to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by transforming its national road and transportation network to a more people- friendly system. As part of a nationwide effort, youth filed petitions before the municipal council, proposing that one half of roads should be used for public transport and the other half should be used for pedestrians and bicycle lanes.
More than a dozen Filipino and foreign lawyers and youth leaders united at the beach of the School of the SEA (Sea and Earth Advocates) to launch a series of socio-political and legal actions to compel the present generation to take action on the impact of climate change. But the request made to Sta. Fe Vice Mayor Renato Saagundo for action within 30 days as mandated by the Local Government Code of 1991 has (so far) been ignored, and consequently further legal action is being taken.
Led by a team of dedicated volunteers, local and international lawyers are now collating data and materials on road accidents, vehicle to road-space ratios, population to road use data in key cities, case law on abuse of rights, and procedural issues (among various other related issues) in order to hold the government responsible for their inaction.
After the youth served their government leaders with the petition, event co-convener and internationally acclaimed environmental attorney Tony Oposa said: "Today, the youth of the Philippines, backed by their international supporters, have launched a peaceful revolution. A revolution of the mind waged with only the sword of reason, the firepower of the Law, and the violence of an idea whose time has come."
Attorney Sig Fortun, also a co-convener of the event and a passionate and successful environmental attorney, said that there is a prejudice caused by the lopsided arrangement between vehicles that use public roads and open spaces parallel to or available in those roads for safe pedestrian use and enjoyment. Fortun brought a team of young, dedicated attorneys to help draft the petition.
This is more than a group of people wanting the opportunity to preserve their environment, this is the future generation using the law to shape a better world for the future. By using initiative, these communities have stood up with strength and used the law to demand justice for their generation and for generations to come.
To take action in this campaign or to share your support, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more ways that you can help. CALD produced a beautiful video of the few day event, which can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMDD7zaQHPk. And to sign a petition in support of the movement, please visit here: http://ow.ly/lSLl8.